The Tigers, Airlie Birds and the Spiders from Mars

Teams, tales and tips – a guide to the local game

Traditionally, Hull was a rugby league city, divided into east and west between Hull KR and Hull FC. But, given Hull City’s occasional ascents to the Premier League in 2008, 2013 and 2016, football has sometimes gained greater attention.

Hull is also a good example of a successful cross-sport groundshare, between rugby and football, the Airlie Birds of Hull FC and the Tigers Hull City, who have been playing at the MKM Stadium for nearly two decades.

Welcome to Hull/Colin Young

Set in parkland in the west of town, the MKM replaced City’s Boothferry Park, just further west. A lot of the pubs along Anlaby Road, that runs from Hull Paragon, the main train station, are still pre- and post-match ones for the Hull City faithful.

In fact, the MKM (or KC or KCOM as it’s also referred to) wasn’t Hull’s first groundshare. The Boulevard, set on the thoroughfare of the same name just the other side of Anlaby Road from today’s MKM, was the home of both Hull FC and Hull City for many years, though rarely around the same time. Also used for greyhound racing and speedway – Hull’s other great sporting passion, currently moribund – The Boulevard was one of the pitches where Hull City first played in 1904.

The other was Anlaby Road, the club’s main ground before the war, witnessing the great cup run of 1930. Bombed, like much of Hull, in the 1940s, it was later used by Hull’s reserve team. Today’s MKM Stadium is close to its former site.

Welcome to Hull/Colin Young

Unlike the rugby teams, Hull City have no cross-city rivals – they were Yorkshire’s only representative in the Premier League of 2013-14, for example. Their main local rivals in the tripartite Humber derby are Grimsby Town, recently demoted to the National League. The two last met in the league in 1987. Scunthorpe United are the other element in this somewhat disjointed regional rivalry.

The most notable lower-league team here are North Ferriby, ‘The Villagers’, where Hull City legend Dean Windass got his start before running out at Boothferry Park. It was Windass who famously scored the goal that gained Hull their once-in-a-lifetime promotion in 2008. FA Trophy winners in 2015 and promoted to the fifth flight a year later, North Ferriby collapsed after two consecutive relegations. 

A phoenix club rose in their place, now climbing back up the league pyramid, still based at Grange Lane. To reach it, take the hourly train from Hull to Ferriby (12mins), a 5-10min walk along Station Road, New Walk and Church Road. Your trek will be rewarded with a visit to the friendly One Point Sports Bar there. Every year, North Ferriby host Hull City’s academy side for the Billy Bly Trophy, named after the legendary goalkeeper who made 400+ appearances for the Tigers.

Getting Around

Arriving in town, local transport and tips

Underused Humberside Airport is 20 miles (32km) from Hull. With the Humber Flyer bus no longer connecting to Hull’s central transport hub of Hull Paragon, there are no direct links by public transport. Hull Cars (01482 82 82 82), whose office is close to the MKM, should charge £30 into town.

Doncaster-Sheffield, 47 miles (76km) from Hull, has far more international services. Doncaster station is 1hr from Hull (from £10) by train. Direct from Manchester Piccadilly (from £25), it’s 2hrs, direct from London Kings Cross (from £40) it’s 2hrs 30mins, 3hrs if changing at Doncaster. Adding a Hull PlusBus supplement (£3.50) allows you to use local buses for the rest of the day once you arrive.

Trains come into the Hull Paragon interchange in town. The stadium is north-west, about 20min away on foot. The main two bus companies, East Yorkshire and Stagecoach, have separate ticketing systems.

Where to Drink

The best pubs and bars for football fans

Hull is a city of heavy drinking. Much of this takes place in contemporary bars down one side of Princes Avenue, an easy walk from the MKM Stadium. There’s another, more down-at-heel, hub near the Paragon, on the stretch of Anlaby Road that leads into Carr Lane.

Pearsons heads the Princes Avenue strip, its interior a clever mingle of traditional pub and contemporary bar – and blessed with five LED screens beaming sport all day.

Bookending the bar stretch, traditional pub, the Bowery, the former Linnet & Lark, also offers TV football, and quality ales. In between, trendy venues such as beer-focused pave (‘Princes Avenue’), the more restauranty Garbutts and café-like Lounge characterise the locality. 

Live sport, quality cocktails and top burgers typify Crafted while just the other side of Pearson Park, the Queens Hotel is a friendly football-watching spot with a pool table and occasional live music.

Diagonally opposite Hull Paragon station, Admiral of the Humber is a handy Wetherspoon. The city centre may be a better option, where Hull Cheese on Paragon Street is a souped-up contemporary party spot with TV sport, fashioned out of a traditional corner pub. DJs at weekends.

Right on the waterfront, The Minerva on Nelson Street provides reason alone to come to Hull. Centuries of maritime history backdrop convivial communal consumption of fine ales and equally fine food. Simply unbeatable.

Where to stay

The best hotels for the ground and around town

Visit Hull provides details of hotels in town and around.

Handily located between the ground and the bar hub of Princes Avenue, the Four Farthings (Spring Bank West 359-361, 01482 346 760) is an eminently affordable 12-room B&B. Major chains line the ring road on the stadium side of town, including DoubleTree by Hilton Hull, with a rooftop bar and Marco Pierre White steakhouse, and the more business-like Holiday Inn Express Hull City Centre, both on Ferensway.

Even closer to Hull Paragon, Wetherspoon pub The Admiral of the Humber has recently added 22 en-suite rooms, while opposite, the Gilson is a decent three-star that contains two sports bars, a gym and restaurant. On the other side of Ferensway, the comfortable Ibis also has a late-opening bar.

Back on the Paragon side, the Royal Hull is a classic railway hotel not afraid to play up its historic credentials – even though these days it’s pretty dowdy, passed on by the Accor chain to Britannia.